Master Library Space Plan - The Plan


  • a Hub for the McMaster community
  • a Resource for students, faculty, staff and scholars
  • an Exemplar for McMaster's achievements and aspirations

The vision for the library arises from a reflection on McMaster’s identity as a whole, and on the library’s particular role in supporting and shaping that identity.

As an institution, McMaster is known for pedagogical innovation, community connection, and continuing excellence in research. To fully support the University’s mandate, the library must fulfill a variety of needs: it must maintain its traditional role at the heart of the academy, as a hub for the McMaster community and the many groups that make it up; it must maintain its relevance as a critical resource for its many different patrons; and it must serve as an exemplar of the character, quality, achievements and and aspirations of McMaster as an institution. The identity of the university and the role of the library are thus mutually reinforcing: each shapes and defines the other as McMaster continues to grow.


Within this broad role, seven goals stand out as critical priorities over the library’s next ten years. Described at right, these goals are both aspirational and essential: while they reflect an optimism about what the library can become over the course of the revitalization process, fulfilling them is also imperative to ensuring that the library continues to fulfill its larger role.

  • Improve connections between existing programs, neighbours, and context
  • Showcase, celebrate, and foster unique programs
  • Address changing work styles and spaces
  • Make wayfinding and resource-finding intuitive and exciting
  • Provide a diversity of exciting, engaging, and inspiring learning spaces
  • Plan for the learning technologies of today and tomorrow


The proposed master plan program describes the programs, functions, and adjacencies required to fulfill the master plan vision, while acknowledging the opportunities and constraints that exist within the library’s existing spatial framework.

This master program has been organized around the concept of a “component”. A component is a cohesive grouping of activities or spaces related by service or physical arrangement. A component may or may not be a department, since the term “department” refers to an administrative organization rather than a functional organization of space and activities. Components defined for the project are detailed in this section ofthe document and are as follows:

  • Public Space
  • Learning Space (General Learning, Specialized Learning)
  • Collections
  • Staff Space
  • PartnerSpace
  • Facility Support and
  • Non-Library Space

Each component is outlined in greater detail indicating areas of change and assumptions made in order to fulfill the master plan vision for each library. Component sections refer to each library as applicable. Within each library building, opportunities exist and constraints are
present. The master plan and program take both into consideration.

The overall planning horizon for the master plan is 10 years, to reach academic year 2025/26. The following program component assumptions support the master plan goals and aspirations:

Public Space: increase public space overall

Learning Space: increase space for learning overall

General Learning: decrease generic general learning space in order to increase space for specialized learning.

Specialized Learning: increase specialized learning spaces in order to support a wider variety of learning modes.

Collections: reduce physical holdings of government publications and journal collections in favour of online formats; reduce physical collection footprint through enhanced use of compact shelving and off-site storage for low-use materials; increase space for showcasing and exploring Research Collections and materials.

Staff Space: improve staff workplace environment by clustering space work areas together where possible; ensure adequate space for staff activities.

Partner Space: maintain Partner Spaces as is. Exception: the University is currently discussing the possibility of relocating the Bertrand Russell Research Centre and the Bertrand Russell archival collections to a more prominent location. The master plan has accommodated the Centre in a location that can be later converted to specialized learning space if the move occurs.

Non-Library Space: look for ways to creatively share space between the Library and the McMaster Museum of Art, which occupy contiguous portions of the same building.

Study Seats: The program proposes an increase to overall study seats for the libraries (15% increase overall, approximately 500 seats). 

PROGRAM COMPONENTS (Mills, Innis, Thode)



Would you like to provide feedback on this Master Space Plan? We would love to hear from you.